Brooder setup questions

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by CutlassL29, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. CutlassL29

    CutlassL29 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 17, 2013
    Swansea, MA
    Hello all! Getting ready to start our flock when our local TSC gets their chicks in. Didn't happen last year but it will this year. I made a brooder out of an old shipping crate I got from work and modified it. Even made a toy box for the grandson with the leftover crate. Inside brooder measures are 47" long X 21.5" wide X 24" high. This will be for six chicks. I have the waterer ( a DIY I made ) and a feeder ( a bird feeder we had outside ). They are hanging just high enough so they should be able to get to feed and water also to help prevent them from scratching shavings (and poo) into the feeder and waterer. I've been testing with the heat lamp and using an indoor/ outdoor thermo but I can't seem to find the sweet spot to get 95 at the base. It's either too hot or too cold but I'm only using the spring clamp on the lamp.
    The brooder will go in our 3 season room that we can heat with a space heater at night and they'll benefit from the sun shining through the sliding doors.
    Here's a few pics of it.

    [​IMG]
    I had the wheels from an old computer desk I decided to use on the brooder. Maybe we can wheel them out to the deck on warm sunny days as they get older. There was a hinged lid on it but we decided to take it off. Will the lid be needed as they get bigger?

    [​IMG]

    Here's the inside. Pine shavings for the floor before we get the chicks. The waterer is hanging just barely off the floor and the feeder is actually resting on the floor. The idea behind this was to raise them as needed as the chicks get bigger. Maybe I'm overthinking this part.
    My biggest thing is keeping them at the right temps with the brooder lamp and the red 250watt heat bulb. I'm not a fan of the spring clamp and I'm thinking of making some kind of custom clamp to slide up and down a pipe (steel fab is easy for me, it's my job). How high up should I allow the lamp to go? Where would be the best spot for the heat lamp? On one end in the middle?
    How long before getting our chicks should we have the brooder up to proper temps?

    Should we line the floor with contact paper for easier cleanup with the pine shavings? How about screened or a windowed spot on the side side? We have a German Shepard (7 yr old female) the we'll need to train to leave the chicks alone because we're going to try a little free ranging when they're ready for the coop.
    Just looking to do what's best for the chicks and looking for any input from all the experience on this site.
    Thank you!
     
  2. foreverlearning

    foreverlearning Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 4, 2013
    I use cheap ($1 at dollar store) shelf liners the first few days to prevent leg issues (spraddle leg). I also only have heat on one side of the brooder so they can choose their own sweet spot to lay in. When a broody hatches chicks they will go running outside even in the snow and only go for warmth under mom when they get cold. Exact temps will do nothing but give you a headache and them pasty butt. If you do one end warm and the other cool (heat lamp on one end only) it will be more natural for them. If you plan on free ranging I suggest that you make a small run with hardware cloth and start putting them out there for short periods of time in the day around 2 weeks old so they can learn scratching as early as possible. The earlier they learn the better they are at it. If the wood in that brooder is not water tight you may want to put something on the bottom to protect the wood (not needed but nice). At some point in time they will fly up and roost on top of the brooder if you don't have a cover of some sort. It varies in age, some at a week some wait until a month before they fly up there. I use deer netting draped over top for my ease but if you already have a door built that would be your best option.
     
  3. CutlassL29

    CutlassL29 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 17, 2013
    Swansea, MA
    Thanks for the tips! We're going to line the bottom of the box with contact paper or shelf lining. I'll modify the hinged cover so it's open on the top with some window screen (we have a huge roll of it) then put it back on the box if it looks like they're going to the top of box. Will set up the heat lamp at one end too. Guess I should make a roost for them too. Thanks again.
     

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